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Monday, July 25, 2011

Alaska by Sue Saliba

Title: Alaska
Author: Sue Saliba

Release Date: 27th June 2011

My Rating: 2/5

mia's heart made a sound that no one heard except for mia late one night when she woke from dreams into darkness. ethan was asleep beside her, and em was a forest away. outside it was night and dark and alaska. the sky was upside down.

When Mia follows her sister halfway across the world to Alaska, she discovers that love can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful of places. But can Mia find the courage to follow her heart in Alaska? And what if the one you love is not all that you wish them to be?

In A Nutshell:
I'm sorry to say that I just couldn't connect with the story or it's characters.

My Review:
I have read quite a few good reviews of Alaska so I think I am most definitely in the minority here when I say that Alaska really didn't grab me. I don't like writing reviews for books that I haven't enjoyed so I am going to try and keep this short. I found Mia, our main character, quite difficult to like and just couldn't connect with her. I thought she was a naive, lost little girl who seemed to think her life would become a fairy-tale and that all the bad things in life would go away once she had arrived in Alaska. I realise it is a coming-of-age story but I still didn’t feel 'it’.

Mia has come to Alaska to visit her older sister Em, and to disappear from her undesirable life. Em escaped to Alaska a few years ago and left Mia in Melbourne, caring for their alcoholic mother.

The story follows a couple of different storylines. Firstly we have Ethan, the boy Mia meets in the forest and who seems to be her perfect fairy-tale guy. I couldn't warm to Ethan either and pretty quickly thought there may be something 'off' about him. While I had my suspicions, I wasn’t completely right. Then there is the storyline of Mia’s mother who is in hospital back in Melbourne. Mia battles with the feelings of wanting to stay in Alaska with Em and Ethan, and the responsibility and love she feels for her mother back home. There is the relationship between Em and her husband Terrence that Mia ponders and how it has changed Em from the sister she used to know to someone else. And finally there is the forest, a beautiful Alaskan forest that an oil company wants to get rid of in favour of a pipeline. Mia takes an interest in the protest group who are fighting to save it but can’t quite get Em or Ethan to be as enthusiastic as she is.

With so many different storylines, the only one that really gets any sort of closure is the one concerning Mia and her mother, with a semi-conclusion to Ethan, and I was left wondering the outcome of the other plots. My favourite part of the book was the environmental aspect and fighting for what you believe in but it’s fate is left unknown. I also wanted to know more about the relationship between Em and Terrance. There is the suggestion/implication of a controlling spouse but it just never really develops into anything.

I understand the story is about Mia’s journey, how she changes as a person due to the time she spends in Alaska, but I didn’t like being kept at arm’s length with the other characters. I suppose the story is supposed to show that you can't run away from your problems and expect everything to turn out bright and shiny. But who knows, maybe I just totally missed the ‘magic’ of the whole story?

FYI, there were no capital letters throughout the entire story and this bugged me. But, isn’t the cover pretty?!

Second Opinions
Words on Paper


  1. Nice review :) I am interested to read this even more now - I've seen tons of rave reviews but your 2 star is justified well.

  2. its a shame you didnt like this.
    I've been tempted to buy this book twice but i'm not sure wether i will like it or not. The cover is so pretty though!
    great review nonethless :)

  3. I had a similar reaction. It was elusively interesting and ambiguously dreamlike but ultimately not engaging enough for me. I did not

    I wondered about the choice not to use capital letters in the text, but use them for title and author name on the cover, and that most other grammar conventions were followed throughout.

  4. err. i did not

    finish my sentence.

    have no idea what i was going to say.

    them's the breaks.

  5. Oh so disappointing to hear. It sucks you couldn't connect with this story. Oh well we can't love them all!

  6. ahh, i like this review jess.

    i loved reading this book.

    but it was very much an 'in the moment' book for me. it hasn't resonated.


  7. This is an extremely beautifully written book, and reads almost like a poem. It does have a very sad tone to it, but also has a lot of wisdom in it as well. My only issue with the novel was the ending; it left me feeling unsatisfied considering how many loose ends weren't tied up, and it didn't feel like anything had been resolved. Still, this was a beautiful book, one of the best I've read in a very long time.


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